Screaming Circuits: The Definition of Insanity


The Definition of Insanity

Most of us have heard the quote: "The definition of insanity is doing something over and over again and expecting a different result." It's generally attributed to Albert Einstein, but there's enough contrary "evidence" to cast doubt on that attribution. Regardless of whomever first said it, is it it true?

I pulled this statement out of an article in Forbes, by Ethan Siegel:

ESC boards out of focus"If you flip a fair coin ten times, for example, you don’t expect to get 10 heads in a row: that’s a very rare occurrence. But if you flipped a fair coin a thousand times, you wouldn’t be nearly as surprised if you looked anywhere in your data of the 1,000 flips and found 10 heads in a row. That’s kind of like what we do in particle physics."

Particle physics is all about doing the exact same thing over and over again, and expecting a different result. Smart people do particle physics.

Now, look at advertising. Advertising uses the terms reach and frequency to describe effectiveness. Reach, would be how many people see an ad. Frequency is how many times those people saw the ad. It's said that someone must see an ad seven times for an advertiser to be assured that the person will remember it. If you expect that someone won't remember an ad the first six times, you are repeating the same thing over and over again, and after seven times, expecting a different result.

Turn your attention to manufacturing. We do our best to do the same thing over and over again, which is to build quality product on time. Yet, we also are looking for different results.

It's logical to assume that an engineer paying $10,000 for a build will be  nervous and a bit skeptical when receiving their first assembly order back. Our job is really all about making an engineer's job easier and removing stress. Given that, "nervous and a bit skeptical" isn't really the result we're after.

We strive to do the exact same thing with that customer's next order: build quality product on time. Each time we do that exact same thing, the engineer commissioning us with the work should feel better and better about their vendor selection. Eventually, that engineer should be happy enough that they want to pass on us, as a stress reducer, to friends and coworkers. That's a different result than we first got. I personally don't see that as being insane.

On the other hand, when we started Screaming Circuits back in the year 2003, we were thought to be a bit insane by folks in our other divisions. Maybe the quote is valid, but "insanity" isn't necessarily a bad thing. Food for thought.

Duane Benson
Dang! I used my insanity quote as a signature in my last blog
I should plan these out better




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